Bail & Bond
If you are arrested in the state of Florida, you have the right to a reasonable bail bond before conviction, pursuant to the Florida and U.S. constitutions. An arrest due to a felony or misdemeanor in Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County or Palm Beach County means you will be taken to jail and "processed." Being arrested or knowing you are going to be arrested and not knowing how to negotiate the fairest possible terms can be one of the most stressful and frightening events in your life. Knowing about your right to bail and bond is your first step in your fight for your freedom.What is Bail Bond
Bail refers to the cash or cash-equivalent that an arrested person gives to a court to ensure that he or she will appear in court when ordered to do so and/or will not flee the jurisdiction if he or she is released on bail. The amount of bail is referred to as bond. The bail bond must be of a reasonable amount. The bail bond is usually required for pre-trial release. .Why Bail Bond is Required
The purpose of bail bond is to allow an arrested person to retain his or her freedom until he or she is convicted of the crime, to ensure that he or she shows up at subsequent criminal proceedings, and to protect the community against the probability of unreasonable danger posed by the defendant. The amount of bail bond must be no more than what is reasonably necessary to keep him or her from fleeing before a case is dismissed. If the defendant appears in court at all his/her scheduled time of appearances, the court refunds the bail. But if the defendant does not show up, the court keeps the bail, and issues a warrant for the defendant's arrestWhen Bail Bond is Determined
In Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, usually within forty-eight hours (excluding Saturdays, Sundays and holidays) of a person's arrest, he/she will be arraigned before a judge who will determine what the bail bond will be. The defendant typically appears before a court to answer the charges made against him or her by indictment, information, or complaint. Once the judge determines the bail bond, the defendant pays the bail bond in order to be released from jail.Standard Bond Schedule
Typically, after you've been arrested and "processed" you will be given a bail amount, which is also called bond, unless you are charged with a very serious crime or a non-bondable offense. In Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County there is a standard bond schedule that allows a person who is arrested to "bond out" without going to court or seeing a judge. The schedule is based on a predetermined amount set by the court system. The amount of bond is generally determined by the seriousness of the crime alleged to have been committed.If Your Crime is Not in the Standard Bond Schedule
If the crime you have allegedly committed is not listed in the standard bond schedule of Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, you will be brought in front of a judge within forty-eight hours. At this bond hearing, sometimes referred to as a magistrate hearing, the court has the duty to determine whether the arrest affidavit supports a finding of probable cause. If there is no finding of probable cause, the judge must order that the defendant be released on his/her own recognizance. If the magistrate or judge finds probable cause, the judge must then set a reasonable bail bond.When Bail Bond is Denied
When bail bond is denied to a person arrested in any Florida county such as Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, the state must demonstrate that there is an abundance of evidence against the person and that there is a likely possibility that the person will be convicted of the alleged crime. When bail is denied because the offense is classified as a "non-bondable offense," your criminal defense lawyer must request what is referred to as an "Arthur Hearing." An Arthur Hearing is like a mini-trial whereby the state has the burden of proving that the person committed the crime and that the presumption of guilt is great.
In Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, bail bond is also denied when the person arrested has previously been convicted of a felony and the person's civil rights have not yet been restored at the time bail bond is requested. If other felony charges are pending against the person and probable cause has been found that the person has committed the previous felony or felonies at the time the request for bail is made, bail bond is also denied. In these cases, the defendant, if in good faith and on fairly debatable and non-frivolous grounds, has the right to appeal the court's order to deny him or her a bail bond.Reducing Bail Bond
Generally, the nature of the particular crime charged is what primarily determines how much bond you will need to post. However, if you cannot afford the scheduled bond, your criminal defense lawyer may request bail bond reduction and present to the judge certain factors to consider in your particular case for the purpose of negotiating the reduction of your scheduled bond. For example, you criminal defense lawyer may request the judge to consider your lack of any prior criminal record, your standing in the community, your family ties, your employment -- these are some of the factors, along with many others, that your criminal defense lawyer may find helpful in getting the judge to reduce your bond. In Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, you criminal defense lawyer must file a motion to reduce bail. An application for modification of bail on any felony charge must be heard by a court in person, at a hearing with the defendant present, and with at least a 3-hour notice to the state attorney and the county attorney.Some Factors That May Influence Reduction of Bail Bond
The following is a list of some of the factors your criminal defense lawyer in Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County may present to the judge for consideration in the setting of a reasonable bail bond for your case (for the purpose of reducing the amount of your bail bond):
- The nature of the offense
- The circumstances leading to or surrounding the offense charged
- The weight of the evidence against defendant
- The defendant's mental condition, length of residency in the community, employment history, financial resources, and family ties, which may lower the probability of the alleged criminal to flee or commit another crime
- The defendant's history of convictions, past and present conduct, including any record of previous flight to avoid prosecution or failure to appear at court proceedings
- Whether the defendant is on any probation, parole, or other release pending completion of sentence or already on release, pending resolution of another criminal proceeding
- The probability of danger that the defendant poses when he/ she is released into the community and the probability of intimidation and danger to victim/s
- The defendant's source of the funds used to post bail
Note that certain factors are considered in determining whether a bond is in cash or non-cash. More serious offenses typically require cash bonds. Non-cash bonds typically involve the use of collaterals such as cars or homes or other valuables, in addition to the 10% fee that you have to pay the bondsman for coming up with the bond for you.
In Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, a bail bond can be posted in either one of two ways:
- You can post the entire amount, which means you post a full cash bond. This amount must be paid in cash or a cashier's check. Credit cards and personal checks are not accepted.
- You can use the services of a bail bonds agency and buy the bail bond for 10% of the bond amount. The majority of individuals charged with a crime in Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County use a bail bonds agency.
The bail bondsman typically receives a premium - a fee of 10% of the bond amount. For example, if the bail bond is $10,000 dollars, then the bail bondsman's fee would be a $1,000. You still have to pay this amount in cash or cashier's check, not with a personal check or credit cards. In addition, you must collateralize the bond. This means you have to give the bondsman something as collateral that covers the entire value of the bond. If the bond is $10,000 you must be prepared to give the bondsman something that is valued at that amount or give the bondsman some financial interest on collateral, if the collateral's value is more than that of the bond. If you cannot afford bond at all and no friend or relative can come up with the bail bond for you, this may be the only way for you to post your bail bond. Speak to your bondsman on the details regarding contracting with his/her agency.When Your Bond is Forfeited or Returned to You
In Florida and its major counties such as Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, if the person for whom the bond is posted flees the jurisdiction or does not attend scheduled court appointments and appearances, the judge can revoke the bond, and what you put up as collateral for the bond will be forfeited. However, when the criminal matter is resolved or you have attended all your scheduled appearances, the bond will be released, minus the fee the bail bondsman charges. If you paid an all cash bond, the entire amount will be returned to you, minus administrative fees when the case is over.What Happens When You Do Not Post Bail
If for whatever reason you do not post bail or cannot post bail, or if the judge decides not to reduce your bail bond because of the seriousness of your offense and so you cannot pay the determined bail bond in any of the ways available to you, you will have to remain in jail.Released Without Bail: Own Recognizance (O.R.)
Also called Personal Recognizance. Sometimes the judge allows a person accused of a crime to be free while awaiting trial, without posting bail. The judge accepts the defendant's promise to appear on his or her scheduled hearings, based on the strength of the defendant's reputation. The judge grants Own Recognizance (O.R.) release by taking into consideration the seriousness of the crime charged, the defendant's mental condition, the likelihood that the defendant will appear when ordered by the court to appear, the length of time the person has lived in the area, his/her reputation in the community and ties to the community, his/her employment situation and financial burdens. However, if the Judge decides the charge is a very serious offense, Own Recognizance may not be an option at all.Responsibilities / Conditions of Pre-Trial Release and Violation
In Miami, West Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Broward County, Dade County and Palm Beach County, when the defendant is released on bail bond, the court usually requires the defendant to refrain from criminal activity of any kind and to not have any contact with the victim/s, unless the court modifies the requirements in the interest of justice. If the court has any reason to believe that pre-trial release conditions have been violated or that the defendant has committed a new crime, the court may revoke the pre-trial release and order pre-trial detention.
If you have further questions regarding bail bonds, please contact the office of Attorney Ralph Behr so we can be of further assistance. 1-800-761-3446.